THE MEANT TO BE GIRL (A Sneak Peek!)

The Meant To Be Girl is my contribution to the Christmas romance anthology THE 12 NIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS, available everywhere now! This is a little peek at the magic . . .

“Hey, Ashley. Did you get drafted, too?”

The smile that curved my lips was completely involuntary, but I had trouble ignoring the spark of pleasure and want that tingled up my spine. Zane was sitting on the floor near me, surrounded by evergreen.

“Ohhhhh . . .” I grinned. “So, you’re the someone who got roped into putting the tree together.”

He shrugged. “I think Darlene overestimated my abilities. It looks like a pine tree murder and dismemberment back here.” Zane glanced over his shoulder and lowered his voice. “It might have helped if they’d saved the instructions. I’m totally winging it here.”

I sighed, and for a happy moment, I simply gazed at him. In the months since Zane had first wandered into my salon looking for a quick haircut, he’d become not only a loyal client but a friend. He had a standing appointment every three weeks, and I’d be lying to myself if I’d said I didn’t look forward to his visits. There was just something about this man . . . between his self-deprecating humor, his kindness, and his charm, I didn’t stand a chance. And that wasn’t even touching on the body that made regular appearances in my dreams.

“Huh.” Tori came up to peer over my shoulder. “Hey, Zane. Yeah, you’re in over your head, I’d say.” She gave me a little shove. “Ashley here just happens to be an expert at Christmas tree assembly. And she’d be happy to help you.”

I glared at my friend. “I thought you and I were supposed to be untangling lights.”

Tori shrugged. “I got that by myself. You should go where you’re really needed, Ash.” She gave me wide and suggestive eyes, and I prayed that Zane didn’t notice.

“Thanks for throwing me into the briar patch,” I hissed to her.

She giggled. “Looks more like a pine forest. And you’re welcome. Because you know, that’s what friends are for—to remind you about what’s important and to kick your ass when you forget.”

There was nothing like having my own words quoted back at me. I was well and truly stuck now. “Fine. But you better make sure I get some of those fries when Darlene brings them out.”

Tori held up one hand, as though taking a pledge. “I promise.”

Still wearing a scowl, I picked my way among the thick wire branches covered in green plastic “needles” and cleared a space to sit down on the floor.

“You’re really going to help me? God bless you. I thought you might just stand over me and direct what I should do.” He gestured to the piles.

“In for a penny, in for a pound,” I sighed. “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. We should find the base first, and then the center poles.” I began to root around the branches. “Sheesh, they all look the same. How’re we supposed to know what goes where?”

“Trial and error, I guess.” Zane frowned and picked up a green-covered stick. “Hey, this might be part of the trunk. I think.”

“Is it longer and harder?” Even as the words tumbled out of my mouth, I heard what I was saying and felt my face going red.

Zane quirked one eyebrow. “Not yet. But there’s potential.”

It’s beginning to look a lot like . . . Christmas Romance!

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Available Everywhere Now!

And join us on Thursday, October 25th, for the big holiday party!

Twelve bestselling and award-winning authors each bring you a sexy night of romance, fun and a little magic. ‘Tis the season for falling for the right guy! Can a magical fruitcake be the special ingredient for falling in love?

**‘Tis the season for giving, too!** 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the hunger relief organization Feeding America

December 25: “Scrooge You” by MK Schiller Christmas is nothing but a reminder of Eva’s tragic past. To make matters worse, her boyfriend invites his entire family over…so she goes into Scrooge mode. When three ghosts visit her, will she be able to remember the joy in her heart and the true meaning of Christmas?

December 26: “Unexpected Daddy” by Gemma Brocato She let him go to pursue his dreams without telling him she was pregnant. Five years later, he’s back in town and her secret’s out. Can they get over past hurts to seize a future for their small family?

December 27: “The Meant to Be Girl” by Tawdra Kandle When Ashley Webbar meets Zane Fletcher, it’s insta-lust, but she soon suspects he’s already smitten with someone else. Ashley is so busy matchmaking that she might miss out on her own happily-ever-after…if something doesn’t intervene first. This just might call for a Christmas miracle.

December 28: “For One Night Only” by Carrie Elks When two strangers are stranded at a rest stop in the middle of Nowheresville—thank you, Mr. Bus Driver—they’re forced to spend the night together. But when morning comes, they both find themselves asking one question. Will they see each other again, or was their connection for one night only?

December 29: “Best Friends for a Night” by Alice Gaines Every year, Steve has been cheering up his army buddy’s widow with popcorn and zany movies on the anniversary of her husband’s death. Will a little holiday magic make Steve and Hannah more than friends?

December 30: “Entwined” by Kristi Rose Donovan survived combat, but can he survive being stranded over Christmas with the girl of his dreams? He swore he’d stay away from his best friend’s kid sister years ago, but after a helicopter crash, this sailor knows second chances don’t come around often. Loving Bailey would mean risking not only his friendship but his heart.

December 31: “Rekindled” by Stacy Finz Branna and Drex are over…or at least they thought they were. But a little time trapped in an enclosed space with a magical fruitcake might just change that.

January 1: “New Year’s Negotiation” by Kate Allenton When Detective Elizabeth Cross’s high school crush and star of her what-ifs shows up at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve ready to take her on a trip down memory lane, she’ll have to decide if this is a second chance at her happily ever after or the start of another broken heart.

January 2: “Playing House” by Kim Golden Cassie Delk isn’t having the best holiday season. With her ex-husband about to get remarried, she’s not thrilled about still being single. The last thing she expects is for a second chance at love to turn up on her doorstep.

January 3: “Book of Love” by Cd Brennan Nothing infuriates Melanie more than the one-armed, ex-army hunk who chucks her mail at her book shop door. When Nick delivers a special package at the end of the day, a blizzard strands them together, and the fruitcake delivery sparks magic between them instead. Melanie isn’t sure what she wants to give him—a piece of her mind or all of her heart.

January 4: “A Winter Wonderland” by Rebecca Hunter Coming face to face with Jace after ten years is a reminder of everything Selena left behind when she moved from Delilah’s Cove. It’s even more dangerous when mixed with a little magic.

January 5: “Wild Honey” by Sarah Hegger Two people who couldn’t be more different. One elevator, a dark and stormy night, and a magical, bourbon-laced fruitcake. What could go right?  

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Why I Write Strong Women–and Why It Matters

 

I don’t remember how I began writing strong women. I do recall, though, an early review of my first book Fearless wherein the review jeered that it should have been FearFUL because Tas was such a timid soul. And I remember thinking . . . well, no. She isn’t. She is just a seventeen-year-old girl who has led a protected life and needs to find her own strength. This is the story of how that will happen.

(And that’s exactly what happened in the four books of The King Quartet and by the fifteenth book in the overall series, Age of Aquarius. So there.)

Still, at some point, I began to internalize this concept as I wrote. I made a conscious decision that the women in my books wouldn’t be damsels in distress or weak creatures. I wanted them instead to be sassy, spunky, confident and able.

Recently, I was at a writers’ conference, where I was discussing romance with a group of other authors. The ages of the writers ranged from (probably) early 30’s to mid-70’s. The conversation was lively and interesting, until some time toward the end, when one author remarked, “Well, we all just have to keep writing strong women.”

To my shock, the younger authors reacted badly to that idea. One replied, “Oh, no, I never write strong women–they’re bitches. Readers hate strong women.”

Those of us who were older hardly knew what to say. It bothered me so much that I brought it up to a bunch of other author friends. And then once I got home, I decided I wanted to do something constructive, which is why today we’re kicking off the #IWriteStrongWomen #IReadStrongWomen campaign.

Please understand that I think strength comes in all forms. I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama for over 20 years. That is strength, baby.

Strength doesn’t come from education or money or career or religion or status. It comes from inside you. It comes from experience and choices and–and love. Loving someone else is a measure of great strength and courage.

I write women who’ve never been to college (Jude and Nell and Emmy and Jenna and Ashley and Tori, among them), women who have advanced degrees (Elizabeth, Abby, Maureen), women who would be considered white-collar professionals and and those who own their own businesses and those who are full-time moms . . . what they have in common is their heart and the strength there.

And this is important to me because I have three daughters and will shortly have a granddaughter. I want to leave them a legacy of example–whether that’s in real life or on the page–of women who can do anything they set their minds to do.

I invite you to join our Facebook group,  We Read Strong Women. It’s just fun and chatting about our favorite kickass heroines and their stories–oh, and just maybe a little about the sexy guys who love these spunky women!

I also invite you to join our campaign by posting on your favorite social media site. Just share a picture of one of your favorite strong leading women along with a hash tag like:

#strongwomen
#strongwomenwriteromance
#strongisthenewsexy
#strongwomengreatbooks
#romancetakesastrongwoman
#iwritestrongwo
men

And tell us WHY you read strong women! I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

Two new Career Soldier Books! Are you ready?

I have a super-fun surprise for everyone who loved the sexy six soldiers and their strong and sassy women in the first Career Soldier books.

The next two books are about to be released. Evergreen: A Career Soldier Christmas and Army Blue: A Career Soldier Wedding, will both go live on Tuesday, September 25th.

You can preorder the books on iBooks, Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Google . . . OR you can buy them now right here on my website.

But wait, there’s more! If you buy Army Blue on my web store, you’ll get a special bonus chapter won’t be available anywhere else. Ever.

Three more Career Soldiers will release in 2019, too. You’ll meet some of those characters in Army Blue.

So grab your copies now or place your preorders.

BUY THE BOOK Web Store  iBooks  Amazon  Nook  Kobo  Google  D2D

BUY THE BOOK Web Store  iBooks  Amazon  Nook  Kobo  Google  D2D

Why West Point?

When I wrote SCHEME OF MANEUVER, the final book of the first six in the Career Soldier series, I realized fairly early in the process that Owen Hughes, the lead soldier, was a West Point grad. It was really only a matter of time that one of these soldiers would be a grad, after all; the Academy is such a part of my family and who I am that it would’ve been odder if I’d avoided idea. 

My dad and his roommate, my uncle Mitch, in the barracks

I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t know what West Point was. I can’t remember when Army wasn’t the football team closest to my heart. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know what Duty-Honor-Country meant. My father had graduated in 1965, two years before I was born, and that was so much a part of him that it naturally became part of me.

When I was a teenager, my dad began to do some unofficial, volunteer recruiting for USMA. I became used to cadets visiting during breaks and holidays, as they often visited local high schools to speak about the Academy. When I was a sophomore in high school, a guy from a nearby high school started visiting my father to talk about attending West Point. They became friends after this kid was accepted to USMA; now he too came by during school holidays. 

Graduation, right after commissioning 
Ten days before our wedding!

And then one Christmas break, when I was a senior in high school, he asked me on a date. Little did I know that my entire life would changed based on that date . . . and that once again, West Point would play a huge role!

For the next two and a half years, I spent most weekends up at USMA. As a matter of fact, I think it’s probably fair to say I spent more time there than I did at my own college, University of Richmond. And there is no doubt that I’ve always felt more affinity

It wasn’t surprising, then, that Owen and Jacey decided to get married at West Point. I was excited about setting a book there, revisiting many of my old haunts and the places I’d heard about but could never see. Many of the experiences they have in the book were things that happened to me or to people I knew. Memories that Owen mentions are based on our own. 

My initiation into being
an Army wife

If you are not an Academy grad or the child of a grad or the wife of a grad, you can’t understand what it means to be connected to West Point. But I hope that Owen and Jacey’s story gives you a glimpse of the old gray home by the Hudson.

You can preorder ARMY BLUE on all vendors now–OR you can buy it right here from my webstore, Buy The Book. Buying it here means you not only get it early–you also get exclusive added content not available anywhere else!

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